A vivid account of the early battles, first in the Pulitzer Prize-winning trilogy: "One of America's foremost Civil War authorities" (Kirkus Reviews). The first book in Bruce Catton's Pulitzer Prize-winning Army of the Potomac Trilogy, Mr. Lincoln's Army is a riveting history of the early years of the Civil War, when a fledgling Union Army took its stumbling first steps under the command of the controversial general George McClellan. Following the secession of the Southern states, a beleaguered President Abraham Lincoln entrusted the dashing, charismatic McClellan with the creation of the Union's Army of the Potomac and the responsibility of leading it to a swift and decisive victory against Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Although a brilliant tactician who was beloved by his troops and embraced by the hero-hungry North, McClellan's ego and ambition ultimately put him at loggerheads with his commander in chief--a man McClellan considered unworthy of the presidency. McClellan's weaknesses were exposed during the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in American military history, which ended in a stalemate even though the Confederate troops were greatly outnumbered. After Antietam, Lincoln ordered McClellan's removal from command, and the Union entered the war's next chapter having suffered thousands of casualties and with great uncertainty ahead. America's premier chronicler of the nation's brutal internecine conflict, Bruce Catton is renowned for his unparalleled ability to bring a detailed and vivid immediacy to Civil War battlefields and military strategy sessions. With tremendous depth and insight, he presents legendary commanders and common soldiers in all their complex and heartbreaking humanity.
This particular book that I have had in my hands for about a half a month, comes from my father. My father IS a Civil War buff. My father DOES understand much more about the Civil War then the surface edge that I comprehend. This particular book, and the other two books of "The Army Of The Potomac" series by Catton, were purchased by my father around the time I was born (1965) during the centennial celebration of this particular time frame of American history. I have inherited these books - along with several other Civil War books - from my father in this past year. I have looked at these books on his bookshelves in many places of residence (we were a military family - USAF - and moved quite a bit), but have never gotten the urge to pick them up to read. My forte' is Roman History, and have a couple of bookshelves cluttered with this particular topic. I was produ to obtain my father's Civil War collection, add it to my own, and now pick it up to read.
Mr. Cattons' reputation as a very skilled writer whose evocative method can literally place in the middle of the battlefields is well deserved. There were many times I could commiserate with the misery of the soldiers' on the battlefield. Given that the book is about The Army of the Potomac, its is stilted to a great degree to the story from the side of the Union. The Confederate Army is mentioned slightly, mostly in comparison points of battlefield conditions and overall morale of the combatants. Catton's true moments of genius come in the small side-stories that he pockets into paragraphs in the unfolding battle scenario. Here and there, he details a small set of details on this particular man or that particular unit. The one that stands out in my mind the most is how General R.E. Lee's Special Order #191 is found by two enlisted Union soldiers relaxing in a meadow - the orders being the paper that wrapped three cigars. Catton laments that while the story concerning what happened to the orders is a given in history, there is no recorded instance on exactly what happened to the three cigars. Little caveats such as this, make this book a sheer treasure to read.